Guanajuato is just a few hours north of Mexico City, and makes a great weekend trip from the capital. Here are some of the top things to see and do when you’re in town.
Climb to El Pipila statue above town
The statue, which looks down over the city, was built to honor the independence hero who burned down the gates of a Spanish fortress and enabled the first victory for Mexican rebels in 1810. It makes a great spot for photos, and you can watch the sun disappear behind the nearby mountains at sunset.
Diego Rivera’s house
Perhaps Guanajuato’s most famous son is the internationally-renowned muralist Diego Rivera. His childhood home now houses a museum in his honor, as well as explanations of his most well-known works.
On the outskirts of town lies a bizarre museum containing the mummified remains of residents who were buried in the city cemetery. Anyone who can’t pay the fees for a plot is exhumed to make room for others, and some are put on display here. Some visitors have complained about the exhibits, and it might make some people feel uncomfortable, but it’s definitely interesting to see.
Party with the students
There are around 20,000 students enrolled at the University of Guanajuato, and their influence on the town can be seen in the vibrant cultural scene and raucous nightlife. Check out bars such as Golem and Why Not to dance the night away.
Wander through Hidalgo Market
If you’re hungry, need some souvenirs, or simply want to see the citizens of Guanajuato going about their daily lives, Hidalgo Market is a great place to visit. There are plenty of regional handicrafts for sale, as well as the usual tourist tat, and the food stands can be delicious. Make sure you eat at a busy one even if it means waiting a while.
Check out the Festival Cervantino
Coincide your visit to Guanajuato with this yearly arts festival to see the city at its best. Since 1953 artists from around the world have been invited to the city to take part, with huge names such as Leonard Bernstein and the Bolshoi Ballet making appearances in the past.
Catch a show at Teatro Juárez
This lavish theater was inaugurated by former dictator Porfirio Díaz in 1903, and his extravagant taste is illustrated by the gaudy red and gold interior. You can take a peek inside if there aren’t any shows on the schedule, but it’s even better if you check the listings and get a ticket for one of the regular performances.
Watch the world go by at El Jardín de la Unión
In front of Teatro Juárez is the main square, called El Jardín de la Unión. Around the outside are restaurants and bars with expansive terraces, where you can eat and drink away on a sunny afternoon. If you’re on a budget, grab some tacos from a street stall and sit on one of the shady benches for some cheaper people-watching.
Visit the mines that made Guanajuato rich
The fortunes of the city were built on silver mining, and you can still visit some of the old shafts today. Make your way to the complex at La Valenciana around seven kilometres outside town, and descend the first 60 meters of mine shafts.
Join a callejoneada
One of the surviving traditions from the days of Spanish rule are guided street parties called callejoneadas. University students dressed up like minstrels gather in El Jardín de la Unión before setting off on a tour of the town, singing and dancing along with a band. Drop by around sunset and join in.